A traumatised bear from Ukraine who was one of only a few zoo animals to survive Russian shelling is set for a new home in Scotland.
Zookeepers say Yampil, who is named after his village in Donetsk, was found concussed from a recent explosion near his cage and in “appalling conditions” when his home was liberated in October last year.
Most of the 200 other animals died during attacks or due to harsh conditions – with some even believed to have been eaten by Russian soldiers, according to reports.
After recovering at a rescue centre in Belgium, Yampil, a 12-year-old Asiatic black bear, is booked in for a move to Five Sisters Zoo in Edinburgh in 2024.
“This is a truly horrific story, but one we are determined to make sure has a happy ending,” the zoo said in a statement.
“It is going to cost Five Sisters Zoo a significant investment to make this possible so if you would like to help us create the perfect home for this truly remarkable bear, please consider donating.”
Brian Curran, owner of the zoo, added their “hearts broke” when they became aware of Yampil’s conditions and were “so amazed he was still alive and well”.
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Yampil was left traumatised by the war. Pic: Five Sisters Zoo
The conditions around Yampil’s cage, where a bomb had exploded. Pic Five Sisters Zoo
The village of Yampil was freed after five months of Russian occupation last year as part of a Ukrainian blitz to reclaim territories in the east of the country.
A Sky News team witnessed a “clean-up” task force in the village moving from home to home searching for traps and mines that may have been laid.
The long-range artillery barrage from both sides meant residents endured a bombardment many feared they would not survive.
“It was terrible, terrible,” one elderly woman said at the time with tears in her eyes. “We were scared then and we are still scared now.”
The heavy shelling destroyed much of Yampil the bear’s previous home and only a small handful of the animals are believed to have survived.
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Yampil has been temporarily cared for in Belgium. Pic: Five Sisters Zoo
To accommodate Yampil, Five Sisters Zoo is raising money to adapt a new habitat for the bear, and the zoo says it will need £200,000.
From every donation, 10% will go towards the Natuur Hulp Centrum in Belgium, where Yampil has been temporarily cared for, while the remainder will fund the bear’s new home, the zoo said.